Just an update on the health situation.
Felt a bit better for a couple of days, so dragged myself along to Kigali Black Food Festival. It's an international festival celebrating food that is coloured black, so basically the antithesis of unicorn food. Very little this unusual happens in Kigali, so I really wanted to go have a look.
It wasn't easy to find. They held it at Serena, which is a huge hotel in town, but nobody thought to put up a sign and none of the staff at reception seemed to have any idea there was an event going on. Just a load of lost people wandering around the car park looking for food. I was about to go home when I heard music and followed it to the very far side of the car park where there was a giant marquee. Even when I approached and asked the guy on the door, 'Is this the food festival?' He shrugged and told me to go to reception... Serena has a little way to go on event management.
I took a risk and went inside. It was the food festival. Instantly bumped into five people I know - which is the way of things in Kigali. Managed to get a picture in the live feed.
|L-R: Anysie, Leah and me.|
Turned out to be more of a craft fair than a black food fair. There were some black samosas and someone had coloured the hot dog buns with beetroot, but mostly it was clothes, jewelry and cosmetics. Nice enough for a look round, though. I bought jollof rice and some exquisite peanut brittle from a Ghanaian lady who has lived here for the past couple of years.
Also bought some West African black soap. Both the soap and the jollof rice are things I was introduced to in Sierra Leone in 2008. Things you don't commonly see in Rwanda. Bought a few other things including an evil eye charm to hang over the door and a hot dog. Appetite was starting to return.
Only stayed about an hour, got home pretty exhausted but extremely happy I'd been on an outing and brought home some yummy food. Ate, watched Bojack Horseman, went to bed early.
Next day, still feeling fairly okay. Pottered about, washed some clothes. Started writing a contract bid. Got to the last paragraph - aches. Real bad aches. Swiftly followed by tears and shivers. I lay on the couch in a complete state and knew, one-hundred percent, this wasn't in my head. But lay there a long time because I was worried that if I went to the clinic and all the tests came back negative again, I wouldn't be able to take it. Thought it might just be better to lie there and let it pass without the discomfort of moving too much.
Then the shivers started to sooth as my temperature bumped up and I thought, time to make a decision.
Talked myself through everything, out loud: get bag, wallet in bag?, get clothes, wrap up warm, get keys, take phone...
Left with three layers on and still felt like the Arctic all the way to the clinic. Had to go via an ATM machine and could hardly get the card in the slot I was shaking so hard. I love the Polyclinique du Plateau, but I wish so much that they'd get a card machine. They still do everything by cash and that's tough when you're sick and need emergency treatment.
Anyway, turned up sobbing as usual, was ushered into a side room, then a private bed. Again, the doctor was great. This time didn't ask a single question about my mental health, just took blood samples and got the nurse to jab me in the bum with a soothing dose of diclofenac. When I was able, I headed to the bathroom for another urine test. Then I closed my eyes and tried to sleep for a while until the results came back.
When the doctor walked into the room, I was really bracing myself.
"Everything negative?" I asked.
"No," he replied. "You have malaria."
I burst into sobs all over again, but this time it was utter relief.
I was fairly certain it was that quite early on, but when the tests kept coming back negative, I believed them. Now we had a name for what was happening and a course of action. I couldn't stop thanking him.
They gave me an injection of something to help protect my stomach, because coartem is really harsh on the tummy, plus the antibiotics hadn't cleared up the UTI so I needed a seven-day dose of a different brand, and to top it off, I'd also developed tonsillitis. My immune system was wiped by the malaria.
Still, I must have been the happiest person on the planet to get it. Or at least to know I had it. The not knowing was hideous. I felt like I was starring in my own personal remake of Gaslight. Starting to question my sanity, wondering if it was all in my head. At least now I can cry like a child, safe in the knowledge I'm not losing my mind.
I finish my last dose of coartem tomorrow morning. Due to it being very late when I got home from the clinic, and that you're suppose to take the second dose eight hours after the first, then every twelve hours after that, I unfortunately have to wake at 6 a.m. to take my morning dose with milk. I usually find it tough to get back to sleep after that, so I'm pretty tired right now, and sleeping a lot in the afternoons, but the aches have almost gone and the waterworks are under control. Fingers crossed, this is an end to it.
It's now a case of building my strength back up and trying to repair some of the torture I put my body through with all the artemether, antibiotics and painkillers. It's been rough. Starting out with two large tubs of the most incredible locally-made natural Greek yoghurt from Casakeza. Delightful to eat and full of good bacteria.
In a bit of really lovely news, I took delivery of some beautiful art the other day. I did a favour for a friend and stored some of her stuff for a couple of years whilst she was away. In return, she asked her artist friend Rukundo to help transform the bass strings of my old Lirika piano into a giant treble clef. It was really emotional taking the strings off the piano. We took it apart to see if we could replicate it through the Kigali Keys project, and I knew I didn't want to throw them away. I had the idea of a treble clef, but nothing prepared me for what Rukundo came up with. It's incredible. A real statement piece that looks fabulous on my wall. Emmy came to drop it off, and it's as tall as he is!
Fingers crossed that by the next time I post, I'll be well on my way to recovery. Already doing much better, and I've been overwhelmed by the love and support of my friends. So many kind messages and hugs. Really got me through.
I will leave you with a scene from Rwanda's wet season. We've been having lots and lots of rain.